The Conspiracy Theory Is True: Agents Infiltrate Websites Intending To "Manipulate, Deceive, And Destroy Reputations"

Tyler Durden's picture

In the annals of internet conspiracy theories, none is more pervasive than the one speculating paid government plants infiltrate websites, social network sites, and comment sections with an intent to sow discord, troll, and generally manipulate, deceive and destroy reputations. Guess what: it was all true.

And this time we have a pretty slideshow of formerly confidential data prepared by the UK NSA equivalent, the GCHQ, to confirm it, and Edward Snowden to thank for disclosing it. The messenger in this case is Glenn Greenwald, who has released the data in an article in his new website, firstlook.org, which he summarizes as follows: "by publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself." Call it Stasi for "Generation Internet."

Greenwald's latest revelation focuses on GCHQ’s previously secret unit, the JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group).

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today:

Other tactics aimed at individuals are listed here, under the revealing title “discredit a target”:

Then there are the tactics used to destroy companies the agency targets:

Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes:

Greenwald's punchline is disturbing, and is sure to make paradnoid conspiracy theorists crawl even deeper into their holes for one simple reason: all of their worst fears were true all along.

No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption.

 

The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats. As Anonymous expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University told me, “targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs, resulting in the stifling of legitimate dissent.” Pointing to this study she published, Professor Coleman vehemently contested the assertion that “there is anything terrorist/violent in their actions.”

At this point Greenwald takes a detour into a well-known topic: Cass Sunstein. Who is Cass Sunstein? Recall: "Obama Picks Cass Sunstein (America’s Goebbels?) To Serve On NSA Oversight Panel."

Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups.

 

Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government. Ironically, the very same Sunstein was recently named by Obama to serve as a member of the NSA review panel created by the White House, one that – while disputing key NSA claims – proceeded to propose many cosmetic reforms to the agency’s powers (most of which were ignored by the President who appointed them).

But while until now there was speculation that Sunstein's policies had been implemented, there was no proof. That is no longer the case:

... these GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets. Under the tactics they use, the state is deliberately spreading lies on the internet about whichever individuals it targets, including the use of what GCHQ itself calls “false flag operations” and emails to people’s families and friends. Who would possibly trust a government to exercise these powers at all, let alone do so in secret, with virtually no oversight, and outside of any cognizable legal framework?

What is perhaps most disturbing is the level of detail these modern day Stasi agents engage in, paradoxically proposing social subversion without realizing they themselves would be susceptible to just that. And all it would take is one whistleblower with a conscience:

Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack”, while dissecting how human being can be manipulated using “leaders”, “trust, “obedience” and “compliance”:

The documents lay out theories of how humans interact with one another, particularly online, and then attempt to identify ways to influence the outcomes – or “game” it:

Greenwald's conclusion is spot on:

These agencies’ refusal to “comment on intelligence matters” – meaning: talk at all about anything and everything they do – is precisely why whistleblowing is so urgent, the journalism that supports it so clearly in the public interest, and the increasingly unhinged attacks by these agencies so easy to understand. Claims that government agencies are infiltrating online communities and engaging in “false flag operations” to discredit targets are often dismissed as conspiracy theories, but these documents leave no doubt they are doing precisely that.

 

Whatever else is true, no government should be able to engage in these tactics: what justification is there for having government agencies target people – who have been charged with no crime – for reputation-destruction, infiltrate online political communities, and develop techniques for manipulating online discourse? But to allow those actions with no public knowledge or accountability is particularly unjustifiable.

So the next time you run into someone in a chat room or a message board who sounds just a little too much like a paid government subversive... it may not be just the paranoia speaking. For the full details "why not", read the formerly confidential slideshow below.

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homiegot's picture

I am not a troll.

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

I'm not trying to Impress you... But I'm Batman!...

Is that James Holmes holding up the note before he entered the movie theater?  We'll probably find out through one of million plus files that "Ed" managed to abscond with that James and "Team Sandy Hook" had a short stint at NSA or Langleyville?

Too weird for words people.

But as signifcant as this information is in getting back our Freedoms, are enough of us in this Country even awake?

And does it even matter anymore when we see our President and Congress taking us to the brink of World War III and nobody but nobody even blinks when you talk about what we are seeing?

Smiley's picture

I'm very suspicious of alot of the new "pro-gun" hotheads that have been popping up on alot of the regular news outlets.  Very quick to suggest "action" and often naming names but the posts don't get removed for some reason.  Very "spammy" in the way they articulate.  Its getting really weird out there.

nmewn's picture

Ah, I see what you're saying now, my bad.

SgtShaftoe's picture

I've seen that too.  I think they're trying to provoke violence.  Violence they can use, fight against, redirect,  manipulate, etc.   

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

I'm very suspicious of alot of the new "pro-gun" hotheads that have been popping up on alot of the regular news outlets.

Smiley it's good that you are suspicious and stay that way.  Don't know if you remember the 4th of July stunt that Adam Kokesh was going to pull in the Nation's Capital by bringing firearms  to Washington D.C. loaded as a statement for the 2ND Amendment.

Needless to say many of us knew who this guy was beforehand and where it was headed.  A number of people deluged his "very professionally" done website with mail calling him a lunatic and that if he were to March on Washington and bring fellow protestors with him it would be open season with the Park Police.  I think it was a set up, some have disagreed with me, but I wrote him one hell of a note telling him that if he got any fellow demonstrators shot marching from Arlington Va into D.C. he'd be hearing from a very large group of 2nd Amendment followers.

Needless to say your's truly finished it by saying you can demonstrate with signs and letters more effectively bringing attention to your message than loading a gun in front of hundreds of very well armed Park Police.

Anybody seen Mr. Kokesh lately, or know what happened to him?  Read some of the bios out there on him and where he came from or should I say where he "comes from".

Keep staying suspicious but at the same time keep communicating your good judgement when you know paid people have bad intentions.

 

NemoDeNovo's picture

Kokesh is out of Federal Prison now, about a month ago, the feds dropped the Felonies, and he plead to a misdemeanor, got 2yr probation/parole [same difference in the feds and I have NEVER heard of 2yrs being given out], and now he is traveling all around the US on a book tour while on Fed Parole.  Now without going in to a big tirade on this, "If" anyone thinks that this is how the Feds operate when YOU VIDEOTAPE yourself Commiting a FELONY in DC by loading a gun on Pennsylvania Ave, and then just hit you with the Misdemeanors, well I don't know what to tell you.

So YES IMO Adam Kokesh is Hal Turner 2.0, period end of sentence, and anyone that supports him and or is around him is an ENEMY of anyone that Supports Freedom.

Where do my thoughts come from, well I spent 5 yrs and 4 months in Federal Prison for Failure to pay that sales tax on the private sale of a Firearm, so I know how the system works, and I will tell you that his shit Stinks of a FUCKING RAT, and I look forward to one day soon saying it to his Face. 

Johnny Cocknballs's picture

kokesh is definitely, at a minimum, not what he claims to be.

He and Alex Jones may have the same boss.

tip e. canoe's picture

ADAM IS THE MAN

might be a fun sign to follow him with on his Grand Parole Tour, especially if you can sneak behind him when he's mugging in front of the camera. 

triple entendres are always good for a proper mindfuck on MIL-trained brains.

Creepy Lurker's picture

An upvote for you. Always make the assumption that someone trying to talk you into an illegal act is a fed on a fishing expedition. Because it is.

OldPhart's picture

Guilty, sorry.  I get pissy from time to time.

new game's picture

it all make ya kinda wonder if a wall phone, a hand written message and a walk/drive to the neighbors/friends/family home(s) is

where it is at...maybe it is time to truely just say no and disconnect. i spend 180/month for two cells and internet.

fucken eh x 12=2160/yr, hmmmm.

G.O.O.D's picture

I highjack my internet with an antenna and pay 50 a month cell phone.. no smart phone either..fvkem

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

...maybe it is time to truely just say no and disconnect

You know NG I thought the same as you many times on this subject, but I look at it as a two edged sword.

They can use it as the ultimate instrument of manipulation abuse and blackmail that it is, but they also leave themselves with a thousand cuts as well.

Ed Snowden and his colleagues understand that point all too well and that's why the cracks through time and attrition eventually turn into "deep fissures".  The lack of respect and betrayal takes it's toll and becomes a burden for everyone that has to participate in it especially when it is your livelihood and the people paying your paycheck don't even know it.

I say let 'em, so that we can keep breaking them down to show them what a destructive and unproductive force they have become in our lives using a technology that has had so many positive benefits -especially in capturing things that this Government has done to us that otherwise would never have been captured or witnessed by the public through the lens of the MSM.

 

The Wisp's picture

When the Shit hits the fan, just be an Army of One... :)

  you have to have a certain Sense of Humor to Post on ZH.. Trolls can't replicate a sense of Humor

The Government folds when everybody sits down in the Roads and doesn't go to Work. the riots are just for Color..

nmewn's picture

The preference is, the spoken word, not written like here, recorded for posterity (or deleted, never to be seen again) by whoever.

But everyone should already know that by now ;-)

OldPhart's picture

I have a taliban throw-away that I bought for $5 that gives double minutes. I paid $40 for 400 x 2 minutes.  I currently have over 500 minutes on my shitty little phone,,,enough to last me a year or more.  I have no contract, no identity on a server and only my contacts know who I am.

I don't constantly finger fuck the phone.  It's in my pocket in case of emergencies only, but people do call me because I'm a techno-phillic Charismatic.

LordAarioc's picture

PhoneStar is a paid Government Schill I bet. TO Discredit Bitcoin.

FilthyHabits's picture

God this is a fucking nightmare.

BudFox2012's picture

Jim Cramer: "I'm not a paid goverment shill, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night..."

 

Aquarius's picture

Went to the Bank today,

A 20+ year old "Executive" gave me a lecture on the need for heightened security and strong passwords, etc. (I amight add as my account was being creamed since I went away, for almost 3 months to current - and they didn't believe who I was over the telephone, despite secret passwords, etc.)

I asked him, :What's the point of all this when the Americans NSA and all the government agencies are allowed to access any account they wish at anytime, by the Bank itself so they don't need passwords?

He replied: But they are government and they are allowed!

We are doomed.

But, at least, now I know.

Ho hum

kchrisc's picture

American citizen to a sheeple: "How could you allow them to take your family and put them on a train?"

Sheeple: "But they are government and they are allowed!"

 

"There will be blood, the question is whose."

bunnyswanson's picture

What someone said in a discussion:

 

 "..I am not in a position to make a stand...a difference...or be a hero..
The nazis are in control totally weaved thru the top end and the bottom end...and us mids are strapped by regulations threatened by prison..
"

motorollin's picture

I work at a bank. I deal with zeros like your "executive" every day. It saddens me.

A Lunatic's picture

Fuck Obamcare. Fuck Global Warming. Fuck the FED. Fuck the endless and unconstitutional "Wars" in Foreign lands. Fuck the IRS. Fuck 99% of Congress. And Fuck butterscotch pudding; I hate that shit.........

fonzannoon's picture

he was agnostic on butterscotch pudding if my memory serves correctly.

FilthyHabits's picture

Butterscotch pudding...

Should be used to over feed congress in a giant pay per view showing till the end; no bathroom breaks.

GeoffreyT's picture

Fuck butterscotch pudding

 

How dare you sir. That is not remotely in keeping with tradition.

 

Next thing you will be calling for a ban on queefing.

MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your queef?!!?!?

cooperbry's picture

I like butterscotch pudding though.

tip e. canoe's picture

Fuck butterscotch pudding
+1 for a new meme

Reaper's picture

Oh, ye of blind faith. Did you expect the government to be honorable?

Dr. Engali's picture

Why is it that the only thing government can do right is to find ways to fuck with us?

Major Major Major's picture

because they are fucking fuckers, thats why.

 

When your only tool is to fuck with people...

nmewn's picture

Why, there here to help themselves of course.

Here's a good one, don't know if you caught it when I posted it a few months back but its "generally" a good way to spot them, they do have their habits of conformity ;-)

kafkatrapping:

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=2122

tip e. canoe's picture

thanks for the link bro.

hadn't read that before...very insightful.

word of the day :: panchreston : an argument from which anything can be deduced because it is not falsifiable.  The subject must be prevented from noticing that this logic convicts and impeaches the operator of the kafkatrap!

uranian's picture

Here's an interesting take on that.

 

Forbes continues, "this disease, this wetiko (cannibal) psychosis, is the greatest epidemic sickness known to man." We, as a species, are in the midst of a massive psychic epidemic, a virulent collective psychosis that has been brewing in the cauldron of humanity's psyche from the beginning of time. Like a fractal, wetiko operates on multiple dimensions simultaneously -- intra-personally (within individuals), inter-personally (between ourselves), as well as collectively (as a species). "Cannibalism," in Forbes's words, "is the consuming of another's life for one's own private purpose or profit." Those afflicted with wetiko, like a cannibal, consume the life-force of others -- human and nonhuman -- for private purpose or profit, and do so without giving back something from their own lives. One example that symbolizes our self-destructive, collective madness is the oil companies' destruction of the Amazonian rainforest, the lungs of our planet. This is literally a full-bodied revelation showing us what we are doing to ourselves. Another literal example that is symbolically illustrating the wetiko complex in action is Monsanto genetically engineering terminator seeds that do not reproduce a second generation, thus forcing farmers to buy new seeds from Monsanto for each year's new crop. This makes survival for many poor farmers impossible, which has triggered a wave of suicides among farmers, as Monsanto grows richer from the process.

 

The gnostics had an interesting take on this, too, and were persecuted for their beliefs (generally a sign that you're on the right track).

tip e. canoe's picture

so did "Don Juan", he called them the flyers.

“All we can do is discipline ourselves to the point where they will not touch us,” Don Juan advises.

uranian's picture

Thanks for that, interesting link.

G.O.O.D's picture

butterscotch pudding or butterscotch anythig fvkin sx shit

 

G.O.O.D's picture

stick us all in the cage and poke us with a stick you mutherfvkers!

 

dark pools of soros's picture

just another day in the life of Mossad

americanspirit's picture

As long as people can be kept occupied venting their anger verbally they won't be calmly sighting in their scopes, maybe squeezing off a few practice rounds.

FilthyHabits's picture

Believe you me, my ranch is well defined; sighted out from a mile.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Provide controlled venting. Part of controlling the opposition.